Capitals

Quick Links

Maple Leafs get mixed news regarding injuries to key players ahead of Game 1

Maple Leafs get mixed news regarding injuries to key players ahead of Game 1

There was mixed injury news for the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Starting goaltender Frederik Andersen joined his teammates for practice after being knocked out of a game over the weekend but defensemen Nikita Zaitsev and Roman Polak were both absent from the 45-minute practice.

“They didn’t practice today so we’ll see if they practice tomorrow,” Coach Mike Babcock told reporters in Toronto. “Obviously, both guys are progressing.”

Andersen, meanwhile, stopped just short of saying he expects to start Thursday, telling reporters, “if everything goes well, yeah.”​

RELATED: Carlson's status for Game 1 remains TBD

Andersen left Saturday’s game after a scary collision with Pittsburgh’s Tom Sestito, who made contact with the goalie’s head and was called for goalie interference. Andersen acknowledged on Tuesday that he was required to go through the NHL’s concussion protocol after the hit but declined to elaborate.

“I'm not going to talk about that in the playoffs,” he said, asked if he was experiencing any symptoms.

Andersen finished the regular season tied for 15th in save percentage (.918).  

As for Zaitsev, he left Sunday’s game against the Blue Jackets after getting hit along the boards by Columbus captain Nick Foligno. The Leafs are calling the injury upper body in nature.

Zaitsev ranks second on Toronto in average ice time per game (22:01). He was also second among Leafs defensemen in points (36).

Polak was also injured against Columbus, leaving the game following a bump on the left side from Brandon Dubinsky. He returned for a shift after the hit but spent the rest of the game on the bench.

Polak led the Leafs in hits during the regular season with 232.

“We’re optimistic both guys will be ready, but I can’t guarantee you anything,” Babcock said.

Tyler Bozak also missed practice Tuesday, but Babcock said it was a maintenance day for the veteran forward.

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin prepared to adjust his game for the playoffs

Quick Links

The NHLPA won’t reopen the CBA, what does this mean for the 2022 Olympics?

olympic-rings-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

The NHLPA won’t reopen the CBA, what does this mean for the 2022 Olympics?

The NHL Players’ Association elected Monday not to exercise its right to reopen the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHL. The deadline for the NHLPA’s decision was Sept. 15, but, as that date fell on a Sunday, an exception allowed for the deadline to be extended to Monday, the next business day.

“While players have concerns with the current CBA, we agree with the League that working together to address those concerns is the preferred course of action instead of terminating the agreement following this season,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said via a statement. “We have been having discussions with the League about an extension of the CBA and expect that those talks will continue.”

The NHL also had the option of reopening the CBA, but like the NHLPA elected to keep the current CBA in place. The league’s deadline was Sept. 1.

What this means is the current CBA will remain in place until Sept. 15, 2022 ensuring an additional three years of labor peace. That is significant news for a league that has experienced two work stoppages in the last 15 years.

That’s the good news. The potential bad news is what this could mean for Olympic participation.

The next winter Olympic Games will be held in Beijing in 2022 months before the current CBA will officially expire. Olympic participation is not guaranteed under the current CBA and the players were not allowed to participate in the PyeongChang games in 2018.

Every issue the league had with PyeongChang in terms of having to pause the regular season to participate and the time difference restricting viewership and interest will still be present in the 2022 games.

You have to wonder how that may impact the future of Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin takes Olympic participation very seriously and 2022 will likely be the last time for him to represent his native Russia in the Olympics and compete at a high level. If there is no sense that the NHL will allow its players to participate, does that affect Ovechkin’s future plans when his current contract expires in 2021?

Having said that, the league has made a concerted effort of growing interest in China. Recent years have seen preseason games played there and Ovechkin took a tour through China during the offseason as an NHL ambassador. It seems likely the NHL would be much more interested in participating in Beijing than they would have been in PyeongChang.

To reopen the CBA for the Olympics and its other concerns, however, would have been too much of a gamble. The league has shown its willingness to miss games in order to get a favorable CBA in the past and there is no reason to think that option would not be on the table in 2020.

The NHLPA’s decision on Monday ensures we will see hockey through the 2021-22 season and that’s good for everyone.

“We are pleased with the NHL Players' Association's decision not to reopen the Collective Bargaining Agreement," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to work with the NHLPA for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially our fans."

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

3 Caps who impressed in the preseason opener vs. Chicago: Take a bow, Aliaksei Protas

3 Caps who impressed in the preseason opener vs. Chicago: Take a bow, Aliaksei Protas

WASHINGTON -- Hockey made its long-awaited return to Capital One Arena on Monday as the Capitals opened their preseason slate with a 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Tom Wilson was the best player on either bare-bones roster and he scored the overtime winner.

Besides Wilson, here are the players who impressed on Monday.

Aliaksei Protas

Protas already stands out because of his size at 6-foot-6. It was his play that stood out during the game, however, as Protas was the best player of the night for Washington.

Playing in the high slot on the power play, Protas took a pass from Christian Djoos. Chicago’s penalty kill box collapsed around him and he calmly backhanded a pass to a wide-open Travis Boyd who ripped the shot past goalie Collin Delia.

Less than two minutes later, Protas took the puck from behind the Caps’ net and started the breakout. He passed off the puck then made a beeline down the ice. When he saw Beck Malenstyn grab the puck along the boards, he headed to the front of the net and was there when Delia lost control of the puck to get the goal.

In addition, Protas recorded an assist on the overtime winner and was impressive for his all-around play. He forced Chicago to the neutral zone with a poke check on the blue line out of the defensive zone and he recorded two blocked shots.

Christian Djoos

The Capitals will need to cut salary early in the season to get under the salary cap and to many, Djoos looked like a possible candidate to be headed out of Washington. He did what he could on Monday, however, to show he should stick around.

Djoos does not typically get much power-play time during the regular season -- he had a grand total of 3:15 power-play TOI in 45 games last season -- but he got plenty of it on Monday and he looked right at home. He was good holding the blue line with the extra man and distributed the puck well from the point. He was rewarded with a secondary assist when he fed Protas in the high-slot in the second period.

Djoos, however, needed to show more than his prowess on the power play -- where he likely will not get much time again this season -- and he did that with an overall solid effort on defense. He outplayed his counterpart, Jonas Siegenthaler, whose place on the team seems all but assured. The only of Chicago’s three goals Djoos was on the ice for was Adam Boqvist’s wicked shot off the post and in and there was nothing anyone could do about that one whether it was Djoos, John Carlson or Bobby Orr.

Beck Malenstyn

If Malenstyn has a future in the NHL, it will be as a fourth-liner. He gave a glimpse of what he had to offer at that NHL level in this game with his high-energy play.

Malenstyn was relentless on the forecheck and looked like he was in constant search of something to hit every time he was on the ice. He was also great on the penalty kill and recorded an assist on Protas’ goal when he flung the puck at the net from the sideboards.

Malenstyn is not going to be a top-six NHL player. He’s not going to put up 20-30 goals. What he can provide, he showed on Monday and it was exactly what you want from a fourth-liner.

Honorable mention: Connor McMichael had the play of the game with his no-look backhand pass to set-up Damien Riat for Washington’s first goal fo the game. His overall game was solid with one assist, two shots on goal and another two attempts blocked.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: